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4.03  ·  Rating details ·  680 ratings  ·  187 reviews
An m/m World War II-era retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

During a chance summer shower, an English country parson takes refuge in a country house. The house seems deserted, yet the table is laid with a sumptuous banquet such as the parson has not seen since before war rationing.

Unnerved by the uncanny house, he flees, but stops to pluck a single perfect rose from the
Kindle Edition, 166 pages
Published May 5th 2018
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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***** 4.5 stars *****

Let's put those stars into context.

I don't like fairy tales, I don't like retellings, I don’t like dragons. And what we have here is Beauty & the Beast retold as an m/m romance. With a dragon.

Yet… This obviously not-for-me book by a new-to-me author turned out to be amazing, moving, rich, touching, wonderful, and one of the best things I’ve read this year. (Her newest release, Honeytrap, which I finished yesterday, now holds the spot as my best book of 2020. So believe me, t
Francesca Forrest
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
(This review duplicates what's in this Dreamwidth entry.)

Briarley retells the story of Beauty and the Beast, imagining what might happen if Beauty’s father was man enough not to let his daughter sacrifice herself for him. Instead, he stays in her place.

In this retelling, it’s World War II, and the father is a parson who’s also a veteran of the Great War, and the beast takes the form of a dragon.

You know this is going to be a different type of retelling by the parson’s initial reaction to the dr
Briarley by Aster Glenn Gray is a fabulous queer retelling of the classic fairytale of Beauty and the Beast.

Set in the English countryside around the time of the Blitz in 1940, the story follows the adventures of a parson who finds himself tangled up with the curse that's been cast over the Briarley estate and its inhabitants.

Readers will probably be already familiar with the basic plot of the story either by reading one of its versions or through cinematic adaptations. Gray's novel preserve
3.5 stars

The writing was technically beautiful and the story an original mix of modern (it’s set in 1940) and fairytale.
I say the writing was technically beautiful because even though I enjoyed the story and the storytelling flew easily, it failed to make me sink into the story and I felt detached from the characters, always aware that I was reading about characters in a book. As a result, I was also extremely aware of any inconsistency that could’ve easily been, and in some case was, explained
Xia Xia
I enjoyed this fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast very much.
Perfect for a Sunday BR with friends.

BR with Cristina, Elena, Gabi, Rosa and Teal.
I'm going to put Briarley up there with the most original retellings of "Beauty and the Beast" I've read, because of the setting and the pairing as much as for the plot.

It's set in the English countryside during World War II, and despite the location sparing them from the most severe hardships of it, the war isn't absent from the story. It's there in the rationing, in the necessity for the young ones to go to the frontlines to fight or to nurse, and in the aerial dogfights betweeen the Luftwaffe
Camilla Monk
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just completely unexpected. Aster Glenn Gray re-imagines the eternal tale of the Beauty and the Beast in the countryside of warn-torn 1940 England. Is it corny at times? Obviously, as one expects. But it's mostly the smart, insightful, bittersweet and funny journey of a solitary dragon and the no-nonsense parson he kidnaps, and who won't trade his daughter's life for his. So the Parson stays, worms his way into the dragon's tiny, isolated world, and it's just pure pleasure to see them debate of ...more
Completely and utterly delightful re-telling of Beauty & the Beast. Thoughtful, intelligent, gently humorous; a very simple prose style that's still luminous. Never have I felt the want of an epilogue so badly.

If I'd enjoyed the book less, I would have shown how clever I was by commenting on some logistical question-marks about the plot. But they honestly don't matter. This is going on my DIK shelf for when I'm in need of humane tolerance.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
The first half of this book took forever to get through. I thought about putting it aside. Repeatedly. I also wasn't fond of the religious content. But sometime after crossing into the second half, I was finally immersed, quit thinking about Edward being a parson, and just fell in love with the characters and the story. A very different style of writing. Many tears in the last quarter of the book. All in all, a lovely historical fantasy/PNR and a unique take on Beauty and the Beast. ...more
I enjoyed this book a lot, it's a nice reading for an afternoon. I liked the writing style of this retelling of the Beauty and the Beast (view spoiler), is easy to read and the ambiance is lovely, but I think it would have benefited of some more pages. For me the "romance" felt rushed they were becoming friends and then, boom! I love you... some more pages to show how their friendship changed would have been wonderful and after that I wouldn't have minded if the b ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 rounded up
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, e-book
A retelling of Beauty and the Beast where the beast is a dragon and the traveller a village parson who refuses to trade his daughter's freedom for his own? Where he stays with the beast himself and they have discussions on the nature of love and its varying forms? And also it's set in England during World War II? Clearly, I must read this immediately.

I am here to tell you that it is every bit as delightful as I'd hoped. The fairytale tone is charming without being twee, Briarley Hall has just th
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
The parson grew exasperated. “It’s not real love if it is only a means to an end,” he said.
“Perhaps your love for you wife purified it?” the dragon suggested. “It did not need purifying,” the parson said.

This story is unique and quite resembles beauty and the beast but MM version. And isn't it beautiful? Love loveeeeeee ❤

Weakened by arduous journey, the parson stopped to shelter in a deserted house but it was well kept and cleaned. The parson did not believe in spell or superstition. H
This is such a kind, gentle and funny retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Just lovely!
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute gem! An unexpected retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in World War II England. At turns witty and poignant. Sumptuous and stark.

The author challenges traditions of the classic fairytale by swapping out a country parson in place of the beauty. And the beast isn’t the conventional bull/bear/lion hybrid we’ve come to associate with the story, but instead a real fire breathing winged dragon - with a bit more human form.

Its, yes, a tale as old as time *cringes* but the slow, inevitabl
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beauty and the Beast retellings always attract my attention, however full of questionable morals the original tale was. Remove the Stockholm Syndrome part and give the story a fresh twist and you'll have an enthusiastic reader in me.
This was the case for Briarley. The twist was in the setting (England during WWII) and in the protagonists (an older man instead of a young girl as the Beast's "captive") - and it worked perfectly well. The romance was a slow-burn, and I loved the book's touches of h
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
OK, so Beauty and the Beast, but the dad doesn't sell out his daughter. And the beast is a dragon. And it's WWII, so you gotta fight some Nazis.

I don't know what else to tell you. This rules.
I had been eyeing this for a bit (wooed by the cover because I'm shallow like that) but sort of iffy because I'm not a giant fan of fairytales. Imagine my surprise at being gobsmacked by this clever retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Oddly enough it was Florence's review of a separate book that gave me the needed push. Thank you.

The story takes the basic structure of B&B but Aster Glenn Gray makes it wholly original and her own. No Disney sugary sweetness in sight. Instead we get British stiff
Dec 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m not big on fairy tales but this was a sweet story. I did worry that with it ending in 1940 makes this more of a HFN.
Kat, short for Clara
Best premise. Worst execution. It even made me wish a dog would go away. Also how was it possible to order a pair of roller skates from Harrods when a) everyone had been cursed since 1840, and b) Harrods wasn’t founded until 1849. How did they discover the store’s existence and know it sold roller skates and that you could order a pair, but they didn’t know a war was going on???? *fumes*

Whoever was responsible for putting this book on my radar... I hope an enchantress comes along and curses you.
Helen Kord
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was absolutely beautiful. Gentle, smart and kind towards it's characters, with a wonderful slow-burn romance between an older disabled WW1 vet and a dragon, with an almost fairy tale atmosphere? It doesn't get more Helena-baity than that!

Edit for a reread: wow this book is even BETTER on a reread, how is that possible?
The romance part of it wasn't convincing, AT ALL! ...more
Rachel Reid
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was so sweet!
Jul 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, m/m version, set during WWII. I liked that it took it's time, gently meandering through the story. I loved the Parson and his sensibilities. I felt less for the Beast/Dragon who seemed to have learnt very little in a hundred years. He really did feel like the 20 year old who had been cursed and then never grew up.

I don't know how often I will reread it, but I'm happy to recommend it. On the basis of this book I will look for more by Aster Glenn Gray
Crystal Cook
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2020b
I love a good Beauty and the Veast retelling and thus one is one of my favorites. This is a M/M retelling set during WWII, which was unique enough to have me one clicking it instantly.

But I wasn't prepared for how beautiful this story would be. I loved the amount of characterization packed into this novella and the sweet, subtle love that was built and revealed the whole way through.

I loved this so much. This is one of those few books I would reread when I needed something comforting and hopefu
3.5* rounding up because I read it all in one sitting/half a star for the dog (my ratings system is extremely objective and scientific). Sweet, slyly smart retelling of Beauty and the Beast, reimagined in a WWII countryside between a parson and a cursed dragon-beast. The fairytale tone here is perfect. Does anything really unexpected happen, no, but it's a retelling. I neither want nor need it to color too wildly outside of the lines. ...more
Iona Sharma
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Wonderful, ridiculous, funny and romantic. I'm pretty sure I'll be coming back to this one as a comfort read in time to come. ...more
Leigh Kramer
This was so lovely that I have to take a moment to reflect upon said loveliness. Briarley is worth every penny and I need you all to read it. It's a MM Beauty & The Beast retelling set during WWII. All the more impressive is this is a novella. It’s one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read, as well as one of the best BATB retellings I’ve ever read.

The author reinterprets the source material in ways that give it so much more nuance. It’s thoroughly feminist, right down to the parson ref
Janine Ballard
Mar 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-releases
4 stars

don’t read a lot of m/m, but I love fairy-tale retellings and the concept of one set in the English countryside during the World War II blitz was different enough that I read a sample. I loved the author’s way with fairy-tale-style narration, so I ordered the entire novella.

It’s a lovely retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and the central and POV character is a widowed, middle-aged parson with a daughter named Rose. As in Beauty and the Beast, the parson plucks a rose to give to his daugh
Nina ( picturetalk321 )
An unchallenging short read that hits a few happy buttons for me: middle-aged protagonist, dragon, m/m romance, country house seclusion. It is a historical romance on two counts: 1840 meets 1940, and this is quite nicely done. The chemistry between the main characters is sweet and at odd moments, even crackling, although altogether I would have liked more of the crackle, more of the UST, more detail of textures, glances, conversations. Also, I personally would have liked more nuance re World War ...more
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Aster Glenn Gray writes fantasies with a romantic twist, or romances with a fantastic twist. (And maybe other things too. She is still a work in progress.) When she is not writing, she spends much of her time haunting libraries, taking long walks, and doing battle with the weeds that seek to topple her tomato plants.

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